Found footage filmmaking can handle much more than Blair Witches and Paranormal Activities.
This year’s “Chronicle” turned the format loose on the superhero genre with occasionally bold results. And now we have “Project X,” out this week on Blu-ray, using those hand-held cameras to detail a high school party like no other.
Three quasi-nerdy high schoolers decide to throw the party of their lives in order to crack the cool kids’ code. The result? A hedonistic orgy of booze, dancing and other behavior that may take some explaining in the confessional booth come Sunday.
The bash itself is a dizzying affair, in part due to that “amateurish” camera work, and also thanks to the unhinged debauchery in play. Modern movies insist on upping the ante to unwise levels, which means the final act here abandons most rational thought for a “can you top this” onslaught that doesn’t serve the story – or us.
Co-star Oliver Cooper vacillates between charismatic fire starter and pure pest with no middle state. But at least he leaves an imprint on the viewer.
Found footage movies often skimp on character development, and that’s certainly the case here. That wouldn’t matter so much if the film didn’t attempt a teen romance without sweating the core elements like chemistry and screen time.
The film’s Blu-ray extras include “Project X: Declassified,” a standard making-of featurette for an unconventional endeavor.
“It’s more crazy than it is funny,” admits producer Todd Phillips, best known for directing the “Hangover” films.
“Project X: Pasadena Three” reveals audition tapes for the unknown actors in the critical roles, including footage of Cooper pulling down his pants to impress the producers (he kept his underwear on).
“They cast actors who wouldn’t have to act that much,” says co-star Thomas Mann.
The most innovative extra comes last – “Project Xpensive: Tallying Up the Damage.” We learn it cost $275 to launch the film’s Yorkie dog into the air via a collection of helium balloons, and the gently used flame thrower seen in the film’s final act set the production back $4,500.
Follow Christian Toto on Twitter @TotoMovies